Monday, January 31, 2011

I keep baking stuff.

Such as Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles and Citrus Glitters, which are both recipes from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. You probably have all the ingredients to make both, and they'll be healthier than your usual cookie fare. I am especially enamored of the Citrus Glitters, which I am eating right now. I made a half recipe the other night and they are brilliant except for the fact that they go down super-easy. Here's the half-recipe, with my modifications.

1/4 c shortening, softened--you want the non-hydrogenated, no trans fat kind, such as Spectrum Organics
1/4 c sugar
3 T orange juice
1 T citrus zest--I used a whole lemon and half a lime
1/2 t vanilla
7/8 c whole wheat pastry flour (that's 3/4 c + 2 T)
1 T fine cornmeal
1 1/2 t cornstarch
1/4 t baking powder
a good pinch of salt
a few tablespoons of turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Set aside turbinado sugar on a plate. Cream together shortening and regular sugar, then mix in juice, zest, and vanilla. Add remaining ingredients and mix until you have a dough that will hold together. Roll into balls, press one side into turbinado sugar (flattening the dough a bit), and put on a non-stick or parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on the pan for a few minutes and then finish cooling on the rack. This recipe makes about 18 3-bite cookies.

I've been using whole wheat pastry flour for any baked goods lately and I love it. The original recipe calls for AP flour, so use that if you've got it and reduce your juice (reduce your juice!) by a tablespoon. The original recipe ALSO calls for almond milk as the liquid, but I thought the citrus vibe could always stand to be amped. Also, I had no almond milk. Also also, I usually don't like cakey cookies but for a non-crispy, non-chewy cookie, these have the perfect texture.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Night Videos (and poetry, and tunes).

I had a Walkmen record 6 or 7 years ago and liked it, but started to feel after awhile that the lead singer's voice was sort of a yucky, Dylan-y gimmick that I wasn't buying anymore. So I didn't really investigate when they released an album this summer. And frankly, I think my erstwhile opinion of the singer might be warranted (not surprisingly, singers make or break a band for me). When he's droning along on your basic three-note rock songs, I don't like it. When he actually allows his voice soar and be melodic, it's interesting. I don't know why they don't just always do this. It's like if Lee Hazlewood sucked a small amount of helium for a hipster collabo:

That "the sky above" riff (and the production in general) is what made me sit up and listen harder in the car on the way home from work. There's higher quality audio at Stereogum, if you're interested.

If you've never lived around snow, it's hard to describe how quiet it can make things feel. We keep getting another inch here and there and I've been putting off shoveling for days, but finally went out tonight and got my back exercise in. No one is outside and there's a hush over everything. It's dark and the sky is overcast (more snow coming, probably), but there's so much reflected lilac-gray light that it's easy to see even though our entry light is burnt out (another little project to add to the list). It's beautiful, especially when you can return to your warm home after taking it all in.

Here's a Kenneth Patchen poem about snow (among other things)--a poem that I know as a song by Richard Hundley. Apparently Patchen wrote more than one version of this poem, and I don't even know if this version is an official one or one that was futzed with by the composer (sorry poets, this occasionally happens). Anyway, I'm giving you these words for reasons that will become apparent below.

O sleeping lay the maiden snow
Upon the branches of the city
And oh my love was warm beside me

O nearer came the rush of dark wings
Over the dreams of my people
And oh my heart was full of their pain

O sleeping lay the maiden snow
Upon the bitter roofs of the world
But ah! my love was safe in my arms.

Here's a recording of me singing the song in a recital a few years back. At long last: internet proof that I have some sort of life in music.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

This is rad (the song):

You can download the mp3 at The Burning Ear.

I spent much of my evening finishing off a cat bed, made out of some faux fur and fleece remnants scored cheap at the fabric store. It is stuffed with the Brit's old socks, which is sure to please him inordinately when he returns from sunny California. I'll take pictures of the bed in daylight--there is a cat curled up in it even now, so it looks like it wasn't a wasted project.

Look, just get used to the fact that I'm going to blog about cats a lot. When you go from having one (hilarious) old sedentary beastie to also having a young, full-of-beans slinkster that races up and down the stairs and carries small household objects around in her mouth, it suddenly seems like there are cats everywhere. And they are very good company. There's a large, beefy, satisfying one on me even now.

Other projects: I'm in the middle of making a basic shirt following a Burda pattern (Lydia, if you are interested). Making something from a pattern has been on my to-do list for ages. I definitely f-ed up the cutting out, probably because I didn't iron the fabric first (it's cheap garage sale sweatshirt fleece and this is a trial run), but I am determined to salvage the project anyway (and then not wear it). I'll finish this weekend, which is incidentally a 3-day one, which hallelujah.

I'm having a hard time at work lately, which is not something I like to go on about--like, at all--because to me it just reeks of privilege. I have a good job situation and lots of people do not, for one thing, and secondly I realize that even being able to contemplate such a thing as finding and following one's vocation (and making it pay) is a real luxury. Nevertheless, here I am, doing something that my heart just isn't in and it's taking a toll on my first world, highly-educated, middle class ass. I wonder if I would feel better or worse if I didn't have any idea of what I would like to be doing instead, but I know that I want to be teaching. I suppose the answer is to be more proactive about pursuing teaching opportunities, even if they aren't the ideal situations, with the ultimate goal of getting away from work that I don't care about.

But more about all that later. The big cat is licking my dinner dishes.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Making stuff (besides cat vids).

I've been looking for maxi-long knit skirts lately and there just aren't any that meet my specs, except really expensive ones. And then I thought, yeesh, how hard can it be to make a long knit skirt? So this week, instead of completely crashing in front of the TV after work every night, I took my computer into the basement (to stream some entertainment, specifically Bones) and set myself up to get crafty on the work table I rigged. And I tried (vainly) to keep the cats out of my sewing stuff.

I used a vintage maxi skirt as a kind of template for size and shape and cut the "pattern" (I use the term loosely) out of some spandexy fabric that I have had for at least ten years. The front pieces are cut on the bias because for some reason I thought it would be a great idea to have a chevron pattern in front without really considering how hard it would be for a novice sewer to keep the stripes lined up while sewing stretchy fabric. Then on the back the stripes are vertical. The fabric is so stretchy that I didn't really need to do an elastic or drawstring waist. I just made a big-ass obi-style sash. All the seams are zig-zag stitched.

Here's the front:
January 7, 2011.

And the back:
Skirt back.

Aaaaand the side:
Skirt side.

I'll probably do a fuller version in some solid color. Lord knows I have enough stash fabric to get me through many a winging-it project.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Cat blogging.

Happy new year, internet! One resolution I have for this year is: more cat videos. The background for the specimen below is that Ace was completely minding his own business when Momo stepped to him and then some things happened. People who like videos of other people's cats, this one's for you.

Chair throwdown.